What Twitter’s Business Strategy Can Teach Social Pros

At the SXSports conference in March 2016, Twitter Head of Sports Partnerships for North America Danny Keens, introduced an intentional paradigm for Twitter’s business strategy. The three-step sequence was as follows:

  1. Content
  2. Distribution and Audience
  3. Revenue

Of course, Twitter has had plenty of detractors in recent days as its active users growth has seemingly stagnated in in the 320-350 million range, but it has many believers, too. Mostly, Twitter is getting better at telling its story, which, in turn helps people and brands use it better.

First, they’re recognizing that impressions on Twitter are an incomplete part of the picture. When content or news drops on Twitter, it spreads like wildfire across channels, infiltrating conversations and water coolers and live TV and other social media networks. And that matters. Which is why Twitter is now reporting true reach, which, even then probably downplays the “impressions” it originates.

Second, they’re also boasting the value of its hyper-active users, noting that its revenue per user is among the highest of the social networks.

But that’s not the point. The key to Keens’s statement can build a bottom line strategy for any team or brand. Thinking about in reverse makes it all stand out clearly — to earn revenue requires, well, reaching consumers, an audience. And now, you can only *effectively* reach users with compelling content.

Better content is already proving to not just win more earned media, but also, of course, better-converting ads. Good content is building the audiences to whom teams and brands can market to, yep, drive revenue.

That is why, while Twitter has evolved in its analytics and ad options, 80% of its features revolve around content. Emoji, GIFs, mirrors, Q&A’s, video, Moments, highlights, and (rumored to be on the way) stickers are all designed to help all users create better content. Which they hope will lead to more users wanting to create more content, too. Thereby expanding the daily audience and increasing the potential for revenue.

The biggest takeaway is to start with content. But, don’t go all in with content i you haven’t thought about #2 and #3. Know where and how content will be presented (and promoted) to grow (a relevant) audience through effective (multi-channel) distribution, and a plan for how that audience will take revenue-producing actions (which can even mean just consuming content).

So, while Keens’s commentary on Twitter’s strategy inspired this post, the point is more so know there is no chicken and egg argument from monetizing social and digital media. Content comes first and the best cooks have a recipe for how the meal will come together.


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